When Your Plans Don’t Go as Planned, Learn From Them and Continue Onward to the Goal
You Can't Succeed at Your Goals if You Don't Focus on Training
In January, when others are joining gyms, I decided to sign up for another marathon with eight weeks to train for it. The first one I ran didn’t go very well. Our group had trained for months but the race was held in November and it was eighty something degrees by nine o’clock that morning and runners not accustomed to the heat and humidity were falling out like flies along the side of the road prompting race directors to turn back runners and cut the course short by nearly seven miles. A second attempt a year later was foiled by a bum hip and at some point, while I kept dreaming about running a marathon again, I decided I was too old and injured to ever attempt it again.
Recently I was given a chance to sign up for an upcoming marathon for free and debated whether I was delusional or maybe I had a chance. If I was going to have a fighting chance, I needed to start training right away by incorporating a lot of cross training with low impact, stretching and strengthening. To that end I decided to wake up early and head to the gym to work out a bit and take a yoga class to see if I was as unbalanced as I felt. It seemed there was always an ache or pain somewhere and balancing out my muscles on both sides of my body seemed like a sure-fire plan to get everything functional again.
I arrived at the gym earlier than expected, hoping to get an elliptical but they were all taken, so hopped on the Expresso bike with no one else around me, just the way I like it. Mind you, I don't mind company or conversation at times, but when you set a goal you want to focus on it not the peculiar and often annoying habits of those around you.
I had only been on the bike about three minutes when a lady walked in and brushed past me sideswiping me with her over-sized coat and smelling strongly of coffee which I later saw she was drinking from an open Styrofoam cup. She had a thick book in one hand and the precariously full coffee cup in the other and went ahead of me to use one of the bikes up front, much to my relief. As she struggled to hang her coat on the public rack she turned to put her coffee on the bike but it had no cup holder so here she came directly back at me as if driven by the devil to taunt me.
She took a good five minutes to set up the bike to her liking, all the while nearly spilling her coffee as she propped her book on the bike and settled in like she was on a train trip to Atlanta. I suppose I should be glad she didn't bring a breakfast sandwich on the bike with her or open a bag of chips.
I tried to direct my focus on beating an old score to rank at the top of the leaderboard so was breathing heavily and loudly. This is generally something I try not to do in close quarters, but under the circumstances it was gasp for air or die, so I figured the former was a better option. I guess I wasn’t making her ride any more pleasant than she was making mine but her presence made it hard to keep my thoughts on me and not her. I secretly wondered if her fast pedaling was because she was better than me or she had the bike set on an easier level. I say I am not all that competitive, but if the truth be told it can easily be brought out in me under the right or wrong circumstances.
When Nothing Seems to Go As Planned, Make New Plans
While I didn’t break my record on the Expresso course, I did beat my last score, so settled for that. Later I went to the locker room and peeled off my compression socks and got ready for yoga only to find that the yoga class was a half hour later than I thought. I wasn’t really certain I wanted to spend my whole morning at the gym, but figured I really needed a good stretch and balance to evaluate my muscles, so I might as well stick around.
Since my socks were so hard to take off and I had to go barefoot for yoga, I decided to put my running shoes back on bare feet. I only had one spare pair of socks to change into later and didn’t want to get them sweaty. Less than two steps out the door I got a pebble in my shoe and had to shake it out, then got another in there and wondered if this was the direction the whole day was headed but determined to get in a little mileage in the half hour I had left.
I hadn’t been able to use Strava on my phone to track my running because it stopped connecting to GPS a year ago but last night I had gone on-line and followed the guide on how to reset it so decided to test it out on the outdoor track. After five attempts to connect to GPS, I gave up and came indoors. It is odd how you don’t feel like your run really counts unless you have proof of your time and distance even if you don’t share it with anyone other than yourself. I did manage to do about a half mile by my reckoning but felt heavy and slow like a lumbering hippo in high heels.
I still had a few minutes before the class so talked to an old friend for a bit and peeked inside the class to see a huge group and no real space to set up a mat and again thought about giving up and going home, but forced myself to go in and set up between two ladies who gave me strange looks but didn’t say a word. I hate barging in on other’s territory, but sometimes you don’t have much of a choice if you have an agenda to meet.
Embrace Your Inner You Because it is Unlikely Anyone Else Will
The yoga instructor was a substitute. She seemed decent enough, though used terms like Halloween Cat and Grazing Cow to refer to rounding up your back and hollowing it out and it took me a while to figure out what she meant especially because my head was pointed at the floor and I couldn’t see anyone to go by. I imagined Halloween Cat to be a bent kneed stance, hands in the shape of claws held at 45 and 90-degree angles with a fierce look and an open mouth with hissing breath. It’s a good thing I looked at the ladies on either side of me, otherwise it could have been ugly in there.
My grazing cow pose was imagined as head to the ground with my breasts swaying right and left while I swished my tail to keep the flies from biting. Apparently, I was raised in a barn or at least spent too much of my childhood there, but if I were a cow I would have been slightly offended at being referred to as swaybacked. You try carrying a 100-pound child in your womb and walking around on all fours and see how svelte your figure looks.
I don’t like it when people tell me how to breath. As long as I am getting air in my lungs at the rate I need I am good, though I do appreciate reminders to inhale deeply and relax or exhale on effort. Still, I have never been into Pranayama breathing techniques and find some of them to be disgusting so when the instructor told us to take several breaths in succession and exhale them out forcefully, “like the sound of the ocean waves crashing on the shore”, I made more of a sighing sound out my nostrils. It’s not like she’s going to kick me out of class anyway.
The rest of the session went fairly well. I lost my balance a bit on tree pose especially when standing on my left leg, but that’s normal. I tend to do tree on a windy day pose. I could do all the stretches with no pain and my hip did not catch or pop like it usually does, so by my standards it was all good and when the instructor said that she could not stay late and do the meditative portion of the yoga, I was elated as I really, really hate meditation and synchronized breathing. Half the time I am still inhaling and relaxing while everyone else is on their second shore pounding breath release, which reminds me that when I drank out the shared water fountain after another lady had just taken a drink I could smell her breath reflecting off the basin of the fountain and nearly got ill from it. It smelled like garlic and curry and something rank. It took a good deal of courage to swallow and not spit the water out in the fountain and gross everyone else out to spare myself. Having an overly sensitive sense of smell comes in handy sometimes, but other times it makes normal stuff like coffee and bad breath seem really gross and lingering!
As we did our last set of poses I was getting excited about leaving when the instructor changed her mind and decided to do a short meditation session. Oh joy. I was in the process of thinking I would slip out quietly when she said, “let’s just be still and relax and not let any distractions annoy us.” It felt like when the pastor says, “sinner, you will pay for your evil deeds if you do not repent,” and stares right at you. I felt convicted. I stayed.
Sometimes You Have to Accept that You Are Not Like Everyone Else and That's Perfectly Okay
Meditation was not so bad. I found a spot on the ceiling and stared at it and thought about setting and reaching goals and how unfocused I was in real life as well as in meditation and tried to let all that go. I breathed at my own rate and ignored the group collective. It was fine until she told us to think about a pool forming between our eyebrows right above the bridge of our nose and concentrate on the water collecting there because this was the pool where our wisdom resided. At that point I nearly lost it and had to bite my tongue hard to keep from laughing at what sounded like a funny joke that no one got but me. I do that a lot too by the way, but I don’t think she was joking. Maybe she just had water on the brain; I mean what with the ocean and the pool and all. Who was I to judge and yet there I was doing it anyway. The preacher was right, I did need to repent of my sins.
Laugh a Little at Yourself: Don't Let Negative Forces Stop You From Doing Positive Things
I’ll admit that I really liked when we rolled back and forth to release any tension left in our spine and hip area and again no popping, cracking or pain. I really think they ought to call this move ‘puppy wants his belly rubbed’ pose, but I doubt it would be as catchy as downward dog, eh? As I gathered up my stuff and went to take my block back to the cabinet I decided to be nice and offer to take the block of the lady next to me back as well when she informed me it was her block and gave me that warning look to keep my hands off her stuff. My life in a nutshell and I think one of the reasons why people don’t try to be nice to others anymore! It’s too risky!!
As I was leaving I heard two women discussing the weather and how it was supposed to drop below freezing. It is hard to train for a marathon when it is freezing outside and I wondered if I would be able to actually run this thing or if I should change it back to the half, but I would never know if I was capable of running a full marathon if I didn’t try one last time and I really wanted to accomplish something I did not think I could do to encourage me to try to other things in life that I’d been avoiding and telling myself I was not good enough to accomplish so why bother trying: like trying to be nice and put up someone’s yoga block when they saw you as being a pain for not respecting their private property.
As everyone was ohming and saying namaste, I kept quiet. The sound of synchronized chanting is a pretty cool thing to hear, but I’d rather join in unison and sing Amen and praise God for a glorious day whether or not we appreciated it in the manner in which we or at least I, should.
I am still determined to try to improve my fitness level, build strength, balance muscle alignment, eat healthy, but I know it will be a struggle and I will want to quit and there will be multiple external and internal factors that make it more difficult than it really needs to be. That seems to be the way of life, at least my life anyway. I don’t know why it has to be such a struggle and why things go wrong and why I get so snarky when people say things that sound ridiculously illogical to me, but very meaningful to them. Maybe if I was kinder and less judgmental then I wouldn’t have the problems I have? I kind of doubt it. Maybe it would change my perception of the extent or intent of the problems a bit though.
What Goals Have You Set For Yourself and How Do You Plan To Achieve Them
What goals do you have that you haven’t yet fulfilled? What dreams seem impossible to turn to reality. Do you have a goal written out of how you might achieve them or are you just winging it the way the vast majority of us are doing hoping one day you will win the lottery, be picked out of the crowd and offered the role of a lifetime that will make you famous and loved by all you meet?
It is a lot easier to dream than to struggle to make things reality. I am not “in it to win it” by any means, but I am willing to go for it and attempt to put in the miles of training and the work. Who knows whether I will be successful or not, but if I don’t try then I definitely won’t succeed. So here goes something.
According to the training chart for the marathon I should be running 18 miles this Saturday. I barely ran/walked ten last Saturday and my butt and right calf are still a little sore and besides, I still have eight weeks to train, but it is going to be a tight schedule and I may get injured or not have time to put in the training due to other commitments and the stress of even thinking about it is already making me doubt I can do it.
I guess life is like that though. If you really want to do something you have to draw out a game plan and stick with it no matter how awful it seems or maybe you don’t? Maybe you make it work on your level? I have seven hours to run 26. 2 miles. If my math is correct, and it usually isn’t, that means I have to do a 13 to 14-minute mile pace. I have walked a 14-minute mile pace and run an average 10-minute mile pace when I train regularly, which means if I can do the first half in two and half hours or less, I should be able to go almost twice as slow and finish the marathon in time. I’m kind of excited about this plan. I may fail miserably. I may worry about training and staying injury free and I will definitely have to give up a lot of my time for training, but I think I need this.
I may not come in roaring with a loud breath over the finish line, but if I can stumble through with a deep sigh of relief, that’s good enough for me. Everyone needs hope and a dream with a happy ending or as close to happy as one can be. Having challenges is a good thing to keep you motivated and striving for something better, something more than mundane, something that makes you just a little bit different from all the rest but not so different that you annoy others constantly with your oddness. It's a fine balance.
It seems I am always making some sort of excuse why I can’t do things, but the older I get the more I discover that I am capable of doing many things I never thought I could as long as I stick with it and learn and grow in the process. If you are wanting to do something new or different but keep putting it off or finding excuses and it isn’t something illegal, immoral or unjust, sit down right now and write out your goals and how you can realistically achieve them even in small measures like walk a mile or take an art class or learn a new dance. You’d be amazed at all the free instructional videos on YouTube!!!
Do something different, be something more and give back to others so you can help them reach new goals and follow up on fulfilling those dreams you’ve long set aside as impossible. You never know what you might achieve or at the very least, what you might learn while attempting to achieve them! Sometimes the things that happen while you are trying to get to your goal are better than actually reaching it, but here’s hoping you make your way through both and come out shining and ready to keep reaching and growing and helping others do the same. We are all works in progress.